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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It comes in threes...

A friend of ours recently informed us that bad luck tends to come in threes. Having recently weathered the bathroom pipe burst and arachnophobia storms, we realized there had to be one more adventure in the pipeline.

And fate didn't disappoint:

Yesterday I got a frantic call at work from Zahava. Apparently something in our attic (presumably the tank for the hot water heater or one of the pipes leading in or out of it), had burst... and there was water pouring out of every fixture, electrical outlet and light switch on the third floor.

Not only that, but the sheet rock ceiling was starting to look vaguely pregnant and would soon require a C-Section if we were to avoid a complete collapse.

It goes without saying that the power was out, having tripped the moment water decided to play among the wiring. Did I mention that our home phones are all wireless handsets which require the base unit to be supplied with electricity to work?

Thank G-d for cell phones.

While I spoke with Zahava on the phone, our plumber (how sad is it that there is a plumber who we consider to be 'ours'?), arrived and started sorting things out. He shut off the water source and performed the emergency C-Section to release the build up of water on the ceiling. He isolated the hot water from the cold so that we would have at least some potable water source in the house until things were properly sorted out.

But since this was obviously going to have to be handled through our insurance company, our plumber stopped working once he'd stabilized the situation. He could have kept right on working, but he knows the system and didn't want to soak us (yes, pun intended) for work that the insurance company would want their own plumber to perform.

That's one of the many reasons this is 'our' plumber. We trust him not to screw us. He could have played dumb and made a lot of money, but he didn't.

One of our neighbors (a contractor by profession, who had noticed a cascade of water coming out from around the window frames on the back wall of our house) came over and assured Zahava that the plumber was doing the right thing and set about helping her sort out who to call.

The situation was complicated by the fact that two insurance policies will have to be tapped; One which covers the structure of the house... and another which covers the contents. Being typical clueless homeowners, we didn't really know which was which, and we certainly didn't have any of their contact information handy in case of emergency (taking notes yet?!).

Our neighbor walked through some of our old insurance bills with Zahava and found the relevant phone numbers.

The policy which covers the contents of the house was issued by an insurance agent who is a friend and neighbor. I spoke with him, but he told me that it was premature to send out an adjuster to look at content damage. He suggested we call the company that had issued the policy on the structure since they were the ones who would have to do the first aid and assess the damage to the plumbing, electrical system, fixtures and walls.

When I called that insurance company, a sleepy-sounding woman casually informed me that it would be 24 hours ("at least") before they'd be able to have anyone out to the house. I told her we had no water (a half truth) or electricity (the whole truth), and that we had kids at home for whom we would need both. She snapped her gum, took a long drag on her cigarette and exhaled loudly in my ear and said, "Sorry, that's the soonest we can have someone there".

Zahava called our friend the insurance agent, and even though it wasn't his problem, he called the other insurance company and pulled some strings (yay for protexia!!!) and arranged to have someone come out first thing in the morning. I love that 'no' means 'maybe' in this country!

In the mean time, our next door neighbor (the contractor), ran a couple of uber-long electrical extensions cords and a few power strips over to our house so that we could plug in the refrigerator and other essentail things (remind me to run over a couple of big jars of honey to that guy).

By the time I got home from work, it was getting dark out, so Gilad, Ariella and I set up some candles and our propane camping lanterns. The gas was still on in the kitchen, so while the kids set up the Hanukkah candles in the window, I set about putting together a big pot of beef stew (the kind with lots of meat, potatoes, carrots and thick gravy!). I figured that on a cold, rainy day full of so much drama, some comfort food was in order.

While the stew was cooking, our electrician (see above regarding the use of the term 'our') came over and checked out the damage. He was somehow able to remove some of the light fixtures and turn off enough of the top floor switches so that the rest of the house could be re-electrified.

He went around measuring and testing for about 20 minutes and told us that there seemed to be some water 'troubling' the system somewhere... but that it would probably stay online. He gave us instructions on what to do if the power tripped again, and, like our plumber, left after doing only what was essential to rescue us from the early 19th century.

After dinner, Ariella went to sleep at a friends house (since the bulk of the damage seems to have been in her room), and the boys roughed it in their room among strategically situated garbage cans and buckets catching the last of the run-off from the attic.

The insurance company's plumber and electrician are due today, so we'll see how things go.

All I can say is, I hope our friend was right about this stuff coming in threes. I'm not sure I can do this again.

On the bright side; we've met our insurance deductible! :-)

Posted by David Bogner on December 7, 2010 | Permalink

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Wow. Just, wow.

Posted by: Sarah | Dec 7, 2010 1:35:11 PM

"have you checked your mezuzzahs?"
we may as well get it out of the way early...

believe it or not, you are better prepared than most (if only for your strong, personal relationship w/ a plumber and electrician, and a neighbor w/long extension cords).

it's finally raining - may it be abundant, and stay outside (not in your house) for the rest of the season.

good luck with the clean up - time to redecorate the third floor!


Posted by: debbie | Dec 7, 2010 2:07:10 PM

I can imagine the panic Zehava must have felt. Glad you have great neighbors and hoping the damage is easily repaired.

Hope the rest of Chanuka is without more mishap.

Posted by: Baila | Dec 7, 2010 2:54:48 PM

Ok, I'm pretty sure you guys have met not just your insurance deductible, but your bad luck deductible as well! I think you're now covered for the rest of 5771!!!

Posted by: Leah | Dec 7, 2010 3:30:16 PM

A friend of ours recently informed us that bad luck tends to come in threes.

Yep... you must remind me to thank them personally for that little bracha....

[gah]

Posted by: zahava | Dec 7, 2010 3:50:51 PM

May you not experience any more adventures of this sort for many years to come... or better yet, never! Gives me the heebie-jeebies (the hebrew-jeebrews?) just thinking about it.

Posted by: Elisson | Dec 7, 2010 5:02:53 PM

But you're all healthy, B"H
Chodesh Tov

Posted by: Batya | Dec 7, 2010 5:27:26 PM

Oy vey! I am having anxiety just reading this! Hope it all gets fixed very soon!

Posted by: SaraK | Dec 7, 2010 5:54:07 PM

Seems like the right time for some very stiff eggnog!

Posted by: Raz | Dec 7, 2010 6:20:46 PM

Well, you can always pretend that you are Hashmonaim in the middle of a great battle and that electricity hasn't been invented yet. Ok, maybe not... Hope this is the end of the 'threes' for you.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 7, 2010 8:13:03 PM

sounds like three in this story alone!

Posted by: roberti | Dec 7, 2010 10:12:06 PM

As silly as it sounds, I think I could handle the water better than the tarantula. Good luck!

Posted by: LakewoodFallingDown | Dec 8, 2010 12:49:52 AM

So. Can Morey & I come for this Shabbat?

:>

So sorry you guys had to deal with an indoor waterfall. May it all be easily and quickly fixed, and never. ever. happen. again. And thank God for good neighbours!

Posted by: Alissa | Dec 8, 2010 11:13:31 AM

I'm wondering how much more of this Zahava can take! She must be fighting off some general anxiety by now! May everything get fixed quickly and completely and return to normal as soon as possible. And bravo to you, David for handling all this AND making the stew. Ugh. What a day/night!

Posted by: Maya | Dec 8, 2010 7:50:17 PM

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